Our firm’s thesis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic predicted populations would  shift from urban centers to suburban sprawl  due to the development of autonomous vehicles and rapid transit in the coming decade and the increasing usage of distributed teams across leading technology companies. 

With the current pandemic, all of this has accelerated, or at least seems to be moving towards our prediction. Where does the “supercities” trend and thesis develop from here? Will work-from-home become a new reality or will the dust settle somewhere in-between?  We assume the importance of new technologies will increase in a post-COVID world, but will "smart cities" of the future shift from dense urban centers to a new focus of “smart suburban development”?  

Dense cities, such as NYC, were greatly impacted by the pandemic, so will there be increased urban flight or will New Yorkers stay resilient? Over the past few years, major cities, such as NYC and Chicago, have lost tens of thousands in population while suburbs have grown twice as fast since last year. Seoul has a higher population density with a larger metro population than NYC, but was far less affected by COVID-19. How will cities such as Seoul respond to possible changes in global trends?

Our speakers will examine this complex and fluid topic of how the future of smart cities will develop in a post-COVID era, and explore deeper issues such as: 

- How will such developments be financed?
- Will these developments create a wider digital divide? How do we bridge such gaps?
- What regulatory frameworks are needed to protect citizens and not stifle innovation?
John Rossant, Chairman of NewCities Foundation, Advisor to NEOM

John Rossant is the founder and chairman of the NewCities Foundation . He believes it is imperative that different stakeholders work together to improve the quality of life and work in 21st century cities. From its founding in 2010, NewCities’ mission has focused on shaping a better and more sustainable urban future by generating and scaling ideas and solutions through events, research and urban innovation projects - with a particular focus on the impact of new technologies on city-building. NewCities is a non-profit foundation based in Montreal and is active on all five continents.

John is also CEO of CoMotion , the Los Angeles, CA-based events and media company focused on the new mobility space . CoMotion is the organizer of the CoMotion LA and CoMotion MIAMI conferences on the future of mobility and publishes CoMotion NEWS and the webinar series CoMotion LIVE.

John was previously Executive Chairman of PublicisLive in Geneva, Switzerland, the group responsible for the production of some of the world’s most important gatherings of political and business leaders, including the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos and other WEF events around the world . In 2010, President Sarkozy of France asked him to organize the e-G8 Forum on the future of the Internet, which took place in Paris in May of that year.

Previously, John held several senior editorial positions at BusinessWeek, including Europe Editor, as well as Paris, Rome and Middle East correspondent. He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Overseas Press Club Award and the German Marshall Fund’s Peter Weitz Award for Distinguished Reporting. John holds advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the American University in Cairo. He is a member of the board of the Foundation Tocqueville in Paris, Humanity in Action, and is a member of the Advisory Board of NEOM, the large new city project in northwest Saudi Arabia.

John is the author of Hop, Skip, Go. How the Mobility Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives , recently published by HarperCollins.
Brendan Walsh, Director of International Affairs at Stanford University

Brendan Walsh is the founding Director of International Affairs for Stanford University, and has been at the forefront of global development and education programs for more than twenty years. Brendan embarked on his career with a Fulbright fellowship in 1996 and quickly began developing and implementing national-scale education and development projects, including national economics education projects in Eastern Europe and the (then) Newly Independent States of Central Asia. Among the 40+ programs he created at the U.S. Department of State, Brendan implemented one special Congressional initiative and two Presidential initiatives that spawned an entirely new class of global leadership programs. These programs attracted more than $10 million in new Congressional funding, and earned Brendan the State Department’s Superior Honor Award.

Brendan currently is Stanford University’s Senior International Officer, and plans 100+ meetings annually with external business, government, and academic leaders from throughout the world. Brendan opened and has managed Stanford’s first permanent foreign research center in Beijing, China, and recently completed negotiations for a subsidy from the South Korean Government to open a smart cities research center in the Incheon Free Economic Zone. Brendan is a member of Stanford’s Global Governance Group, and staffs the Stanford President’s Global Advisory Council.

Brendan graduated with a major in history and minor in German from the College of the Holy Cross, and a Ph.D. in International Development Education from New York University, where he won NYU’s Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award.  
Emily Yates, Smart City Director at the City of Philadelphia

As Smart City Director for the City of Philadelphia, Emily is responsible for managing and leading the implementation of the SmartCityPHL Roadmap through catalytic partnerships that provides guidance on how smart and emerging technology solutions can improve the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors while improving the delivery of City services.

Throughout her career, Emily has worked to help cities position themselves as globally competitive by utilizing a systems approach to develop strategies, projects and programs that exist within the intersection of sustainability, technology, and economic development. Most recently, Emily was Deputy Director with Envision Charlotte where she was responsible for leading the development of the Circular Charlotte strategy, which made Charlotte the first city in the US to have a citywide circular economy strategy , in addition to other local programming that created a smarter, more sustainable Charlotte.

She has held a variety of positions in Europe and North America, including urban planning positions with both the District of Columbia and the city of Cleveland planning offices. Emily was a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor/ Bundeskanzler Fellowship, which funded a year of research focused on German approaches to the implementation of sustainability policy and climate change adaptation in brownfield development. Emily holds a Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University. She is a member of the Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy (ELEEP) Network.
Tim Kobe, Founder and CEO of Eight Inc.

Tim Kobe founded the globally recognized strategic design firm Eight Inc . in 1989. Today, 8 has offices in San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, Tokyo, London, Singapore and Beijing and is a leader in innovation and branded experience working with companies such as Apple, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Nike, Coke, Knoll and Citibank. 8 also received the top award for the Architectural competition "High Density on the High Ground” and were selected to represent the United States at the Architecture Bienniale in Venice Italy.

A graduate of Environmental Design with honors in 1982 from Art Center College of Design. He worked in Los Angeles for Herb Rosenthal and Associates, at the American Broadcasting Company during school and in New York with Murray Gelberg and The Burdick Group in San Francisco.

In 1987, Kobe became a founding partner in West Office Design Associates, a firm focusing on museum and exhibition design that was responsible for the master planning of museums and for several science museum exhibitions in the US and the Hong Kong Science Museum.

8 works across many traditional disciplines: strategy, architecture, exhibition, interior design, product, communications and branding. Many projects have received international design awards and have been published in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Tim Kobe has lectured at the Art Center College of Design, California College of Arts and Crafts, and the San Francisco Academy of Art and on behalf of the US State Department regarding sustainability and architecture in Bangkok and Los Angeles, He was guest lecturer at the prestigious annual Picnic in Amsterdam and at the annual Microsoft Symposium in New York and the Northern Lights Congress in Helsinki Finland.
Kobe is also trustee at Art Center College of Design and currently serving as Chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Grabhorn Institute in San Francisco California and divides his time between California and Singapore.

Charles Reed Anderson, Managing Partner at SparkLabs Connex

CHARLES REED ANDERSON (CRA) is a globally-recognized IoT, Smart Cities, PropTech & Connectivity (e.g. LPWAN, eSIM, 5G) industry thought leader who has presented at over 200 industry events. His company, Charles Reed Anderson & Associates, provides technology- and vendor-agnostic advice to governments, enterprises and technology vendors on how to successfully navigate the increasingly complex technology solution ecosystem.

With nearly 30 years’ experience, Charles’ in-depth knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of emerging technologies and solution vendors, combined with his understanding of the market demand, allows him to separate industry hype from reality.

Charles is Managing Partner at SparkLabs Connex , which is an accelerator focused on Smart Cities, PropTech and Connectivity. SparkLabs Group was awarded the Newsweek Momentum Award in November 2019, which ranks it as one of the Top 100 Smart City Partners globally . SparkLabs Group was the only venture capital firm or accelerator recognized on this list.

Prior to starting his own Technology Advisory Services firm, Charles led the Telecoms, Mobility & IoT practices for IDC Asia/Pacific and has worked for leading global operators including BT Global Services, Vodafone and O2.

Charles is also the host of the TechBurst Asia podcast , a Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company on IoT and sits on the Advisory Board of the GO SMART (Global Organization of Smart Cities) initiative.

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